Annie Live! and The Second Mountain

With all the news about viruses and shootings and impending wars happening around the world this week, why would the Spirited Reasoner stoop so low as to write a critical review of a TV musical (Annie Live! on NBC) and of a non-fiction book by a TV news commentator (The Second Mountain, by David Brooks). Hang with me a moment.

There are times in our lives when meaningful coincidences happen. When such events lead to changes in my life’s attitude or direction, I prefer to call them “God moments.” A God moment happened to me this past week when I happened to watch Annie Live! during a week when I was also halfway through David Brooks’ tour de force, The Second Mountain.

For those of you who might be unfamiliar with both, I won’t bore you with details. Instead, my plan is to provide you with only the intersection of themes, the gist of my “coincidence,” in hopes that you will share the God moment with me. Here goes:

The one song in Annie that grabbed me several decades ago when I first saw the play one Broadway was Annie’s rendition of Maybe, a cry from the heart of an orphan. Her plea is not so much to her parents as it is about them. Unknown to her, they died long ago. But to Annie, her parents are still alive. And maybe, just “Maybe,” they still think about her. I played the classic Andrea McCardle version of Maybe on YouTube this morning and it still choked me up, even today, almost forty years after I first saw the play. Why? Perhaps because it speaks to the inner child in all of us. The one still wishing it could be cared for by loving parents. (Or a loving God.)

In the end, Annie is saved not by the wealth of Daddy Warbucks, but by his realization, call it a religious transformation, that all the money in the world cannot substitute for his need to commit his life to the happiness of one little girl.

Now to David Brooks. His book is all about that spark that exists within all of us. Call it a soul. Or call it an inner child. It’s that part of us that, like the inner child of Daddy Warbucks, finds itself hungry to connect with other people in ways far deeper than a Facebook friending or the liking of a Tweet. He writes about a wealthy family in Washington, D.C. that has taken in dozens of street people into their home, much the way Daddy Warbucks adopted Annie and promised to care for all of her playmates at the orphanage.

We all have our theories as to why we no longer know the names of our neighbors the way we once did, decades ago, when we were children. Or why memberships in religious and civic organizations have dwindled to the point where so many such organizations have closed their doors. The reasons don’t really matter. The point is that we need to find ways to reconnect. According to both Annie and The Second Mountain, we cannot expect such reconnection to mean anything if kept at a formal, arms-length distance. We need to find ways to really care about each other again. Eye to eye. Heart to heart. Cell phones put away.